With all the paperwork I've had to produce for the last module of the Masters came an inordinate amount of reflection. I've said before that this was a massive topic to delve into and because of this, it's taken a while to fully understand where I'm going with the project.
I knew from the off that I would be producing photographs because that's what I do. It wasn't too long before I worked out what the images will portray but it's only been very recent I've managed to unpick exactly why I've chosen to do what I have. With a few well placed questions from my Supervisor I've been able to disseminate exactly what I hope to achieve with this project.
I always thought a Masters project had to be something that made a grand statement, something big and bold, and awe inspiring. I thought I had to produce a series of images that spoke to as many people as possible, but how do you that when the topic is so personal, not only to me but to everyone who has been impacted by poor mental health?
The answer is quite simple, you can't.
So what do I hope to achieve with this series of images? With a lot of reflection, I've pinpointed three simple aims:
1) Re-balance the Soul
2) Instil Hope
3) Encourage Acceptance
Re-balancing the soul sounds very pretentious but I've yet to find a better turn of phrase so bear with me. In their book Art As Therapy, De Botton and Armstrong talk about the seven functions of art. One of the functions is arts ability to fill in the space when something is missing. They suggest that we take from art what we need in order to re-balance our souls, so someone with a hectic busy life might well be drawn to simplistic calming art in order to restore their balance. Equally someone with a monotonous, dull life way well be attracted to art that is busy and lively. In this way, all art is therapeutic so therefore, therapy!
I hope that the images I produce will encourage the soul re-balancing for myself and the person with whom I am collaborating. Whilst the artwork will be exhibited to a wider audience, first and foremost I am making it for us. Given this I will take into account what De Botton and Armstromng have presented when constructing the visual representations of the illness I am transcribing.
Instilling hope is essential in this project. The subject of mental health has a lot negativity attached, but what about the people who have survived? Those who have moved past the illness? Those who are happy?
When my first daughter was given a terminal prognosis twelve years ago, one of my greatest fears was that I wold never again be happy and that terrified me. So much so that I named my second daughter Hope! What is life without happiness? Isn't that all everyone is truly searching for? So whilst it's a dark topic to cover, I will emulate those practitioners who have managed to explore it and include a strong sense of optimism in my end photos.
Encouraging acceptance is a big part of overcoming the stigma attached to poor mental health. Getting people talking is the first step but to really embrace the concept of mental health being as important and as difficult to treat as physical health requires wide spread acceptance.
As I progress to the next (and final) stage of the Masters, I'm now in a position to understand where my journey is taking me.I don't yet know the exact point of my final destination but I know the route to take and I now know WHY I chose it. So, here's looking forward to 2019 and the Masters module four.